Tickled pink by Shannon's visit
EIGHT-time Australian ironman champion Shannon Eckstein helped kick-start the Far North Coast surf lifesaving season at Lennox Head over the weekend.
The 36-year-old retired after 20 years of professional ironman surfing at the end of last season, after finishing runner-up at the Australian Ironman Championships on the Gold Coast.
He now runs coaching clinics, with Lennox Head the first of the season on Sunday, after he returned from a trip to South Africa.
Eckstein burst on to the scene in 2002 when he won junior and senior ironman races at the Queensland championships.
He finished his career having won the world title six times and the Nutri-Grain Ironman Series nine times.
Nicknamed "The Professor”, Eckstein's ability to read the ocean and rarely make mistakes saw him win a total of 42 Australian gold medals.
"(It's) a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from, and train with the world's best,” Lennox Head Alstonville Surf Lifesaving Club registrar Michelle Mahon said.
"The youngsters were put through their paces, working on their technique, race strategies, paddling, swimming and transition running.”
Eckstein was also the special guest at the Lennox Enduro event on Saturday.
It included some of the best juniors from under-10s through to under-17s from across the FNC branch.
The Lennox Enduro is one of the premier junior endurance events on the FNC surf sports calendar and included a swim, paddle and run.
The under-17s race was tough with a 1km swim, 3km paddle and 3km run. A new race board valued at $2000 was the top prize.
Cudgen holds its annual ironman and ironwoman event on October 26 before the first FNC nippers carnival at Brunswick Heads on November 4.
There is an open carnival at Byron Bay on November 14, with junior and senior titles in January and February.